Nelson Mandela statue unveiled at United Nations

A statue of former South African president Nelson Mandela has been unveiled at the United Nations to honour the 100th anniversary of the late South African leader’s birth.

Over 150 speakers from around the world will take part, and a statue of South Africa’s first democratically-elected president Nelson Mandela will be unveiled.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said at the dedication Monday that Mandela “embodied the highest values of the United Nations — peace, forgiveness, compassion and human dignity.”

The 1.9-metre statue is a gift from South Africa to the international community as a symbol of humanity and reconciliation – principles that Madiba stood for and ideas that will be discussed during the summit.

A peace summit is scheduled later Monday in Mandela’s honour as the U.N. General Assembly’s annual meeting of world leaders begins.

Mandela was welcomed at the U.N. in 1990. He had been imprisoned for 27 years under South Africa’s white minority government.

Four years later, he became the country’s first black president in its first multi-racial elections.

General Assembly President Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garces says she hopes the sculpture will remind member nations “that our differences are to be celebrated.”